When he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at eight years old, doctors told Bryan Sinz to forget about playing organized sports again.
Sinz, 20, who plays defence for the Penticton Vees, credits his mom for investing hours researching the disease online to see what she could learn.
“She was the biggest supporter I had,” said Sinz, a native of
What she discovered was that with the proper care and dietary detail her son would be able to continue playing hockey which he’d started at age three.
She even helped to arrange a meeting with he son and former Philadelphia Flyers player Bobby Clarke, someone who was known for his gritty and tenacious spirit on the ice rather than being known as someone who has Type 1 diabetes.
Although Sinz said he can’t remember many details about that meeting the one and most important thing – which helped to inspire him – was Clarke telling Sinz that being diabetic never stopped him from pursuing his dream of being a professional hockey player.
It took about three years until he was responsible enough to monitor his blood sugar levels and administer his insulin. He said it was beneficial because it provided him with an early lesson in being self-reliant.
With November being Diabetes Awareness Month, Sinz agreed to share some of what he does to keep things in check.
He checks his blood sugar levels between six and eight times per day.
The evening before a game he begins to closely monitor himself. He also monitors himself prior to every game and between each period.
He takes blood samples from the same area on his left elbow and then he takes the insulin pump (about the size of a small cell phone) and attaches it to a thin plastic tube that has been inserted into his abdomen region in order to administer the insulin.
He keeps the pump attached to the plastic tube whenever he’s not playing or practising. The plastic tube is changed about every three days.
“It’s not a hassle. I’m used to wearing it.”
Sinz said it’s critical for him to track his blood sugar levels as it will have a far greater impact on his energy levels than it would on someone who isn’t diabetic. He keeps some type of energy drink at the players’ bench in case he feels his energy depleting.
The symptoms of having a low blood sugar level include light-headedness, nausea, shakiness, breaking out in a cold sweat, hunger, numbness in the tongue and lips, an accelerated heart rate, hunger and anxiety.
Through careful and consistent monitoring of his blood sugar levels Sinz has been able to make sure he’s never experienced those symptoms during a game.
Sinz said because Clarke helped inspire him when he was a youngster, he’s hoping to pass that along to budding hockey players.
“Last year I had the chance to meet with a young kid who was nine years old,” he said. “I just told him that it doesn’t matter what anyone tells you—you can do all of the things a normal person can do.”